The Golem and the Jinni was one of the first books I read this year, and having read it, I sincerely wish I'd picked it up back in April, as soon as it was released. It's a beautifully written book about freedom, hope, and friendship that left me with a lingering sense of wonder almost a month after reading it.
Chava is a golem, a creature of living clay straight out of Jewish lore. Ahmad is a jinni, a creature of living fire from Syrian legend. The two of them find themselves in New York City in 1899, both completely out of their elements and trying to find a way to make this strange city into their home.
This book is a perfect melding of historical fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. Helene Wecker weaves together a story of unlikely friendship, romance, and survival with the experiences of two completely different immigrant communities, and a sinister undertone as the story's villain moves closer and closer to Chava and Ahmad. She writes about what it means to be an immigrant, and what it means to be human.
I would recommend The Golem and the Jinni to anyone who likes to read, but especially readers who love literary fantasy, magic realism, and authors who use fiction to talk about the questions that plague us as humans. Readers who enjoyed The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, or Forever by Pete Hamill would probably add this book to their list of favorites.